. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Senator Appeals In Tatum Probe

COMBINED REPORTS


Oklahoma Senator Don Nickles said Thursday he has asked Secretary of State Warren Christopher to work closely with Russian authorities investigating the weekend slaying of Oklahoma native Paul Tatum in Moscow.


Tatum was shot 11 times in the back on Sunday night in an underground passageway a short distance from the Radisson Slavjanskaya Hotel.


In Moscow at a press conference Wednesday, Russian Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov said the most likely motive was Tatum's involvement in a long-running dispute over control of the hotel and its business center.


Kulikov also said investigators had not ruled out that the killing was connected to the U.S. presidential elections.


Kulikov said he is personally supervising the investigation.


A relative of Tatum in Arizona said he wouldn't return to Russia to press for answers, nor would other members of the family.


"It is too dangerous there. Too many unknowns. Too much mafia,'' said Rick Furmanek, a computer expert who is married to Paul Tatum's sister, Robin, and who worked for Tatum in Moscow until November 1995.


Nickles, an Oklahoma Republican, asked Christopher to help investigate the slaying.


"Mr. Tatum's murder was a deliberate, execution-style killing carried out with no apparent fear of retribution,'' Nickles said in a letter sent to Christopher on Wednesday.


Nickles said he wanted to know what steps were being taken to prevent further attacks against American businesses and entrepreneurs in Russia.


"This must be done to secure not only the interest of the United States but also the successful development of Russia's fledgling free-market economy,'' Nickles said.


Kulikov said there have been 450 contract killings in Russia this year. Only one in 10 is ever solved, he said. The killings of foreigners, however, have been rare.


Tatum was a founding partner and at one point owned 40 percent of the joint venture that controls the American-run hotel, with Radisson holding 10 percent and the city of Moscow controlling the other 50 percent. The city now claims 100 percent control and has put the hotel up for sale.


Furmanek said Thursday he is trying to determine the whereabouts of two boxed files that he said were removed from Tatum's hotel suite in Moscow two days after the slaying.


He said the family is appealing to the media to pressure the American Embassy to help recover belongings and documents he believed were in the files.


"We fear crucial information or evidence may have disappeared from Paul's room immediately after his death, as Moscow police were seen quickly removing two boxes from the room,'' Furmanek said. ()